Kim Daneault
KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY / Metropolitan | 603-345-7783 | kim-d@kw.com


Posted by Kim Daneault on 10/8/2017

We all want our flowers to last forever. We want it so much that there are entire aisles in Michael's devoted to plastic flowers that will bloom for eternity. But when it comes to creating a warm atmosphere with pleasant fragrances, nothing compares to the real thing. Here's how to get the most of your potted plants and flowers.

Choose your plants wisely

All plants are different. Some flower for different lengths of time or even at completely opposite times of the year. When it comes to cut flowers, they too last varying lengths depending on the species. The time a cut flower lasts before wilting is called its vase life. The vase life is a hard life. But certain flowers withstand it better than others.
  • Chrysanthemums (25-30 days) - They're not a flashy flower, and they don't need much to survive in a vase other than fresh water each day
  • Orchids (10-30 days) - There are countless varieties of orchids available. Aside from their unique form and appearance, orchids can also be surprisingly hardy
  • Anthurium or "flamingo flower" (15-45 days) - Flamingo flowers are a rare sight, and last quite a long time if maintained properly. But pet owners beware: they're considered toxic to dogs and cats

Preparing the vase

The first thing to remember is to clean a vase thoroughly before you put flowers in it. Once clean, start to prepare your water. Plants need food too. If your flowers came with plant food this is the best option for preserving your flower. Otherwise, there are homemade recipes for plant solution that usually involve something acidic and something sugary. Lemon juice and sugar work well mixed with water. Or you can mix one part lemon-lime soda (not diet soda) with three parts water. Next, cut the flowers slightly longer than the length of the vase and pop them in.

Caring for your flower

The job's not over once you put the flowers in the vase. The real trick to making flowers last longer is caring for them once in the vase.
  • Trim a centimeter or less off of the stems every other day
  • Add water as needed and refresh the water after a few days. Be sure to add your plant food solution as well
  • The flowers themselves can be maintained as well. Most flowers benefit from being misted with water once every day or two. Others recommend spraying things like hair spray which acts as a preservative directly onto the petals. Though it seems do defeat the purpose of taking such care to keep the flowers healthy.
  • Be sure to keep the flowers in a temperate place. If the flowers or water heat up or cool down too much the flowers could wilt

The flowers are dead. Now what?

Once the flowers have wilted (hopefully after a long amount of time due to reading the aforementioned tips!) it may seem like you have no further use for them. But there are plenty of creative ways to repurpose wilted flowers on the internet such as making a wreath or even adding them to your bath. Let us know which flowers you've had the best luck with!    





Posted by Kim Daneault on 9/24/2017

Cooking vegetables from your own garden is a great experience. In the same way that you appreciate a meal made from scratch more than a frozen dinner or takeout, cooking food that you grew yourself is an extremely rewarding feeling. Aside from being delicious, growing your own food can help you save money, waste less food, consume less plastic packaging (helping the environment), and try out new recipes you normally wouldn't. When it comes to planting vegetables for cooking, however, there's more to it than simply tossing some seeds in your garden. Here's how to get the most out of growing your own vegetables for use on the dinner table.

Plant smart

One of the first mistakes beginner gardeners make is planting the wrong vegetables or the wrong proportions of vegetables. One or two squash plants, for example, will provide ample amounts of squash for most small families. So, think about the meals you love to cook and what vegetables they require. Then find out how much those plants yield. Some vegetables can be planted and harvested at many times throughout the growing season. If you eat lots of leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), don't plant a huge row all at once. Instead, plant in intervals of two or three weeks so you can reap the rewards throughout the season. Similarly, many lettuces (such a romaine) are able to be continually harvested--that means there's no need for pulling the whole planet out of the ground and replanting.

Plan your meals

To get the most out of your garden plan a weekly menu that incorporates items from your garden. If your tomatoes look like they're ripening, plan for making tomato sauce, pizza, or caprese sandwiches the following week. Get creative with recipes. If you have a surplus of peppers, try different stuffed pepper recipes. The internet is your best friend when it comes to discovering new uses for surplus vegetables.

Preserving

A garden should be useful to you year-round, not just during the autumn harvest season. There are several methods of preserving your vegetables. The way you choose depends on your own need. Common means of preservation include:
  • Freezing meals. Remember those stuffed peppers? You don't have to eat them every day of the week once your peppers are ripe. Cook up some rice, beans, and sauce, stuff your peppers and bake. Eat however much you want and place the rest in airtight bags in the freezer. They'll make great lunches for when you're in a rush.
  • Blanching and steaming.  If you're not quite sure how you'll want to use your vegetables but you know you'll use them later blanching and steaming are great options. Boil or steam them for five minutes then toss them into a bucket of ice-water to cool. Once cool, drain them and freeze them in bags.
  • Canning.  This method takes some preparation and research but canning is a great way to save fruits and vegetables for use throughout the year and are great if you don't have extra space in your freezer for frozen vegetables.





Posted by Kim Daneault on 8/6/2017

Growing your own vegetables is a wonderful thing. You get to choose which seeds to sow, spend time outside, put in some hard work and then reap the rewards all summer and fall. In spite of this, many new gardeners find themselves planting too much or too little of different vegetables. There's much appeal to going to the store to pick out seeds. It almost seems like magic: these little seed packets will turn into baskets full of food, all for just a few dollars. Follow these tips to learn how to grow what you want the first time around so you won't find yourself begging neighbors to take all those extra zucchinis off your hands. What do you like to eat? Experimenting with new recipes is great. And so is the temptation when you see seed packets for an exotic vegetable you've never tried before. But before you dedicate a whole row of your garden to hybrid turnips, think about whether or not you'll really eat all of that. Instead, plant the veggies you and your family love to eat consistently. Before you start planting, think carefully about the amount of space you have in your garden (I usually draw a diagram and label the rows). This is going to involve some necessary research on your part. If you love summer squash, you may think you need a whole row. Squash plants, however, tend to creep outwards vigorously, producing a ton of fruit and also encroaching on other rows if you're not careful. Similarly, you may find that you simply don't have enough room for some vegetables. We all love the first sweet corn of the season, but most of us don't have enough room in our backyard gardens to feasibly grow corn. Plan for next year Once you've tilled the soil, planted the seeds, and taken care of your plants all spring, you may think the only thing left to do is harvest the vegetables. This is a crucial time, however, to think about next year. What did you have too much of? Too little? Did you find that some vegetables simply wouldn't grow in your garden? (I tried twice, with little luck, to plant pole beans but found that they just didn't like my soil.) Take note of these findings for next year. If one part of your garden receives more sunlight, try rotating crops to see if you get different results. Don't worry if your garden isn't perfect the first time around. In fact, it's best to just let go of that image of the perfect garden. Tending a garden isn't another chore to cause stress in your life, it's a simple and relaxing way to get outside more.  





Posted by Kim Daneault on 9/11/2016

The majority of Americans want to live in a manner that protects the environment and leaves the world a better place for our grandchildren. But, “Do you practice what you preach?" Practice Eco-Friendly Stewardship There are many ways that we can incorporate sound environmental stewardship into our lifestyle and use organic gardening methods in the home landscape. By eliminating synthetic chemical products from your gardening practices, you can create a safe and biodynamic home garden. Organic Pest Control While synthetic chemicals are quicker, using organic pest control methods to manage pests in the home landscape are less toxic and damaging to the environment. If at all possible, use the least toxic means first before resorting to noxious chemical pesticides. Natural and effective pest control starts with creating a healthy environment for your plants, shrubs and trees that invites beneficial insects and birds to the garden to do the job of pest control for you. As an example, ladybugs, which can be purchased online or from a local garden nursery, when released into the garden are an effective control for aphids. Microbial insecticides, such as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), also available online or from local home and garden supply stores, causes insects pests to sicken and die without being toxic to people or pets. Bt is a popular choice of experienced organic gardeners who use the product to control worm larvae from cutworms. Always follow package directions for safe and convenient application. Although not as fast acting as a chemical poison, Bt paralyzes the larvae’s digestive system, and the pests are history in a couple of days. Yellow sticky tape is an inexpensive and effective method of controlling flying insects such as gnats, black flies and mosquitos in the greenhouse, indoors and around the patio. A product made from the fossilized silica shells of algae, diatomaceous earth is composed of microscopic bits of shell covered with sharp projections that penetrate and cut the cuticle of an insect, causing the pest to leak body fluids and die. Diatomaceous earth is not a poison: the physical abrasiveness of the dust does the job. DE is effective against all soft-bodied insects including caterpillars, aphids, whiteflies, root maggots, trips, snails, and slugs. Use DE with caution as the product is non-selective and can kill beneficial insects as well. Organic Fertilizers On a visit to your local hardware store or home and garden supply, you will likely find the shelves fully stocked with a diverse array of chemical fertilizers guaranteed to encourage rapid growth and dense foliage. Read the fine print on the packages. Do you want to apply a chemical poison that requires the safeguards and cautions listed on the warning label? Rather than introduce toxins into your home environment, opt for fertilizing your garden plots with a twice-yearly application of well-aged garden compost or organic herbivore manure (cow, horse, sheep, goat).




Tags: gardening tips  
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Posted by Kim Daneault on 4/10/2016

With the recent scrutiny being placed on food quality in America, many people are looking to starting their own gardens. While there's no denying that keeping a garden can be a lot of work, the benefits of growing your own produce are hard to ignore. If you are thinking about trying out your green thumb, there are a few things to consider. What would you like to grow? Would you prefer a garden that you can keep indoors, or do you want an outdoor garden? How much time are you willing to dedicate to your new project? Herb gardens are a good start for anyone interested in growing useful plants. You can grow any combination of herbs indoors. Many herb kits exist, and can be purchased from your local gardening store for relatively cheap. These kits take the guesswork out of picking a complementary combination of herbs, and come complete with full instructions on how to maximize your little garden's potential. If your ambitions are bigger, you can opt for an outdoor garden. Outdoor gardens give you much wider selection of plants to choose from. Living in New England, you can count on about 120 frost-free days, so pay attention to the plants that you choose for your garden. You'll want to choose fruits and vegetables that can survive the occasional frost, and are considered relatively hardy. Here's a few ideas to get you started. Plants that do well in the climate of New England include tomatoes, asparagus, snow peas, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers. Tomatoes in particular offer a lot of variety, from the smaller cherry tomato, to more robust varieties like beefsteak. A newer variety of tomato called Glacier does fairly well in colder climates, and packs the same zest as the more fickle, hot-climate tomatoes. If you want to add a more unique fruit to your garden, you might also want to consider one of the heirloom tomato varieties. I've heard of a tomato called "White Wonder", which is a nearly all-white tomato that packs a whallop of flavor. Many types of berries do extremely well in New England summers. Why not try your hand at strawberries? Cavendish are a large, sweet variety of strawberries that do extremely well here, despite the harsh, unpredictable nature of our climate. For more information on gardening in New England, please visit the following link. http://www.gardeninginnewengland.com/index.asp Good luck!







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